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A failure to comply with a term of an agreement. For example, a default by a tenant under a lease agreement permits a landlord to take certain actions in response to the default.

The failure to fulfill a legal obligation or duty, such as neglecting to pay back a loan on schedule. Under a default termination, the contractor has no rights to claims or profit. In addition, in a construction contract, the contractor's bonding company must then either find a new contractor or complete the job themselves at the original contract price.

Default is often understood the non-appearance of the defendant within the time prescribed by law to defend himself. It also signifies the non-appearance of the plaintiff to prosecute his claim.

When the plaintiff makes default, he may be nonsuited; and when the defendant makes default, judgment by default is rendered against him.

By the 4th section of the English statute of frauds it is enacted that 'no action shall be brought to charge the defendant upon any special promise to answer for the debt, default, or miscarriage of another person, unless the agreement,' etc., 'shall be in writing,' etc. By default under this statute is understood the non-performance of duty, though the same be not founded on a contract.